Text by Jacqueline Weiss & Austin Wilder
Photos by Austin Wilder
Amidst a sea of head-banging concert-goers, there I stood - wearing all black, sunglasses on and slightly un-phased by my surroundings. ILOVEMAKONNEN played just feet in front of us, and as I looked around I couldn't help but see a sea of sameness. Girls wearing the same Brandy Melville crop tops, flower crowns, and cut off shorts, boys wearing tanks with arms lightly moving above their heads to the beat. The same scene can unfortunately be seen at a majority of music festivals and concerts today where it’s less to some attendees about the music as it is an opportunity to show off their tans and flash tattoos.
The popular late-night talk show Jimmy Kimmel Live!’s segment ‘Lie Witness News’ features a roving reporter who asks passerby’s a variety of made-up questions regarding current issues and events. Past topics of note have included State of the Union addresses, the Super Bowl, and Coachella 2013. In the Coachella segment, concert-goers donning flower-crowns were asked if they were excited to see groups made up by the reporter, but that didn’t stop them from pretending that they knew these groups. While these segments can be hilarious to watch, it asks the question about society, do people go along with what’s said or what they think is “in” just to pretend to be in the loop?
Ironically, ‘Our Aim is True,’ is the motto of the semi-annual three-day festival - the aim of the audience however is not always so. There was a high contrast between members of this crowd; hippie-chic millennials and dedicated fans sporting t-shirts and tattoos of band names stood side by side. This clash of young folks, such as high-school seniors riding the Commuter Rail in for the night, and college-aged summer city dwellers, mixed with 30+ year-old 9-5’ers and even a few young children, created an interesting crowd. It was abundantly clear after a quick survey who was at the festival just to go and who was there because of genuine interest.
Boston Calling was filled this year with several slightly obscure indie-rockers - many of which were most likely Spotify searched on the T before the concert by attendees - plus bigger names such as Vance Joy, Beck, The Pixies and My Morning Jacket. Just two years young, Boston Calling began in Spring 2013, featuring some of the hottest headliners that were very up-and-coming at the time, such as Fun., The National, Young the Giant, and others who have since grown in popularity.
A few of those names are at the top of their genres, and this year, we saw this in a new form. Beck has been around for over fifteen years, and just recently won a Grammy. The Pixies are a grunge icon, whom many say paved the way for modern rock music. Their music remains incredibly successful to this day, and the two helped attract a more matured audience. We live in an area with an abundance of college students, all with varied tastes. While the festival continues to feature solid indie and folk artists, they have catered to those who prefer hip-hop or electronic genres less consistently, with Run The Jewels and ILOVEMAKONNEN being the only hip-hop artists featured in this Spring’s lineup.
One of the key characteristics of the festival is that it features bands that originated in Boston, typically as openers. This is highly effective in drawing a crowd, because their main fanbase is right here in the city, and apt to come out to support the groups. Michael Angelakos, frontman for Passion Pit (headliner of Boston Calling Fall 2013), went to Emerson College, and formed the group alongside Berklee College students. This year, folk rock group The Ballroom Thieves opened their set on the final day of the concert with “we’re proud to be from a little fishing village called Boston,” which got the crowd going. Stories such as these are meaningful to the loyal citizens of the city, and Boston Calling gives these artists the credit and recognition they deserve.
It’s clear that Boston Calling is aiming to stay true to its roots, announcing a Fall lineup for September on the final night of the show this season that features local, indie and folk groups, as well as larger acts such as Alt-J, Hozier and Of Monsters and Men. This line-up however, does offer some more diverse acts, and has posers and concert-goers alike excited for the sixth festival.